August 26: Lives of Spiritual Opulence
The Pharisees upheld a faulty religious system. They were supposed to be the Jews’ spiritual leaders, but they were more interested in making themselves the religious elite. They loved “greetings in the marketplace and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets” (Luke 20:46). Their ministry was built on the backs of the poor.
In contrast, the widow depicted in Luke 21 chose to give all she had. Because she had so little, her generosity was sacrificial. Those who gave out of abundance didn’t feel the loss of income like she did. But the contrast between the widow and the Pharisees shows us much more. Luke says that spiritual wealth can be present where we least expect it—that things aren’t always as they appear.
Although Jesus is the long-anticipated Messiah, following Him is never going to bring a life of glory and fame. Jesus is ushering in a kingdom like a mustard seed (Luke 13:18) or yeast (Luke 13:19). It will grow and swell through perseverance rather than praise. It requires a life of sacrifice like the widow’s, not the glory-seeking of the Pharisees.
Through these examples, Jesus warned his disciples to look beneath the shiny veneer for something more valuable. It would have been tempting simply to follow those in charge—in some ways it would have been much easier. But piety that pleases God isn’t found in striving after position or place. Following Jesus means sacrifice and service.
How are you serving God with everything you have?
As I ponder the question at hand, I find myself lacking, inadequate, and for a lack of the better term deficient. It is not that I do not want to serve God with everything I have, it is putting myself against the standard (Jesus Christ) and noticing I cannot be the standard. No Christian can think they can be the Standard. If they do, then they are putting themselves above Christ and the Bible states there is no name above the name of Jesus. Philippians 2:9 (ESV) “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” So, how do I overcome those feelings? Here is the conclusion I have come too. I understand I will never become the standard, nor will I achieve anything close to the standard. 1 Timothy 6:12, (ESV)
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” Instead, we need to wake up and keep our focus on God and obeying what He wants us to do. Add prayer, reading God’s Word, and continuous education and we have it. We strive to be close (relationally) to the Standard, not to “be” the Standard. Those terms that I described in the beginning, those are nothing but terms from the devil, used to break us and tie us down. If you feel like I did in the beginning, you can break free from those terms in the precious name of Jesus!
If you ever read of the battles in the Old Testament, all the battles that were victorious had one thing in common. They all kept their focus on God. Those that lost battles had one thing in common as well, they lost their focus on God. Life is no different, the battles we face, if we keep our focus on God, we will win every time! When we win, then we strive to serve God with a stronger passion. Some may feel like they have not been delivered, and I will simply state this, as a child of God, Jesus delivered us from death and an eternity in hell. That is victory my friends, and if you do not know Christ as your Savior, than you are not delivered from death and an eternity in hell. The good news is, you can be, just call upon the name of the Lord! (Romans 10:9-10) If you are reading this and you are ready to turn your life over and become victorious, simply read and repeat this:
Dear God in heaven, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins and the life that I have lived; I need your forgiveness.
I believe that your only begotten Son Jesus Christ shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins, and I am now willing to turn from my sin.
You said in Your Holy Word, Romans 10:9 that if we confess the Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved.
Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. This very moment I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior and according to His Word, right now I am saved.
Thank you Jesus for your unlimited grace which has saved me from my sins. I thank you Jesus that your grace never leads to license, but rather it always leads to repentance. Therefore Lord Jesus transform my life so that I may bring glory and honor to you alone and not to myself.
Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life.
If you have accepted Jesus into your life, congrats! Though the road does not end here, you need to read the Bible, pray, and seek a church family. If you have questions or concerns please let me know and I will do my best to answer them.
I guess this devotion has turned into a sermon of sorts, haha. It is what is on my heart and I obey what God asks of me and this is it. To go back to the original text, it’s not what size you give it is where your heart is when you give it. Many people do not understand how the lady’s two mites equaled so much more than what the rich man gave. It is simple, think of how many souls have been saved from someone reading, teaching, or preaching, a message on those two simple mites… those souls are worth far much more than any earthly wealth ever given.
When you serve God, it is not the size or how many things you do to serve Him, it is where your heart is at while you are serving Him. Serve Him with your whole heart and that is everything you have!
In closing I hope this didn’t confuse anyone and makes sense as I have had numerous interruptions today. Have a great day and God bless you all!
 John D. Barry and Rebecca Kruyswijk, Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012).